Broward County

Group sex during hurricane leads to a decomposing body in the closet, police say

Travis Watson
Travis Watson

Hollywood police have arrested one of the two men they believe responsible for Ariel Gonzalez’s decomposing body being jammed into a closet of his blood-and-feces spattered apartment.

Travis Watson, 30, was released three months ago from a 13-year prison stay on burglary and grand theft charges. Still at large is Jacob Mitchell, who, according to police, beat Gonzalez with a hanger and a purple broomstick, then poured hot grease on his head.

Mitchell, Watson told police, was mad at Gonzalez for engaging in anal sex with Watson. Earlier, Mitchell participated with Gonzalez in giving oral sex to Watson, police say.

The sex and violence happened Sept. 10, as Hurricane Irma approached, police said.

Mitchell is described in the arrest report as a white Hispanic cross-dresser, five-six or five-seven, medium build and a balding pate he covers with a long blond wig. He refers to Watson as his husband.

Police found Gonzalez on Sept. 13 after a friend notified them she hadn’t seen him in several days. When she went by his apartment at 2617 Lincoln St., she noticed a foul odor.

When officers entered, they eventually found Gonzalez “wrapped in a comforter, with a small portion of the head visible. The dead man was in advanced stages of decomposition and was not immediately identified.

Neighbors eventually identified Mitchell and Watson as leaving the apartment during Hurricane Irma. When Watson was picked up in Fort Lauderdale on a municipal ordinance violation Sept. 27, Fort Lauderdale cops let Hollywood know they had a person of interest in custody.

According to the arrest report, Watson said Gonzalez hailed him and Mitchell on the street on Sept. 10, the day Irma hit, by whistling at them and saying, “My house, my house.”

Once there, Watson said, Gonzalez and Mitchell engaged in joint oral sex with him. But when Watson and Gonzalez engaged in anal sex, Mitchell accused Watson of cheating on him and wasn’t interested in getting his turn with Gonzalez.

Watson, the report says, admitted to punching Gonzalez in the face while asking where he kept his money. At Gonzalez’s refusal to answer, Mitchell began swinging at Gonzalez’s head with a hanger. Then a broomstick. Then an extension cord. Then, with Gonzalez’s hands tied behind his back with a belt Watson applied, Mitchell poured hot grease on Gonzalez’s head, police said.

Watson claimed he tried to stop Mitchell.

Watson is charged with robbery without a firearm, kidnapping in commission or facilitation of a felony, and failure to report a death to the medical examiner. He remains in Broward County Main Jail on $100,000 bond.

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal